Some of my political opponents and their financial supporters have raised my historical fraud convictions as an important issue going into the Mayoral election.
I’m not sure if this is a reference to my blog post but for the record I am not a political opponent of Wilson, or a financial supporter of any candidate.
I am extremely proud of Kiwi Air and what we achieved.
It was great having Kiwi Air bringing more competition to the skies. But does the pride extend to the hundreds of travellers who had paid for air tickets and were left stranded at airports when Kiwi Air went into liquidation? And the people and companies that were owed $8 million that never got paid?
That said, I’m the first to acknowledge my mistake of signing four documents in 1995 which lead to the convictions. I let down my wife, my family, my staff and the public. However I do not subscribe to the view that this mistake defines who I am or who I could be. Every single day in everything I do I use this life lesson to continually be and become a better person. This means making better decisions. The decisions I made as a young man are very different to the ones I make today. My family and I have been recently challenged again as I fought cancer and I can assure you the person I am today has yet again evolved significantly as a result.
My question back to you is simply this: “As a person whose has made a mistake, does that mean I stop evolving and making a worthwhile contribution to society?”, I would say emphatically, no.
First of all I absolutely do not think a criminal record means you can not make a worthwhile contribution to society. Far from it. However if you are seeking the mayoralty of a major city, then your criminal record is relevant.
But here’s what I’ve observed over the years. Ewan minimises what he did. He refers to his convictions as the result of a mistake. Later on he calls it an “error of judgement”. It seems a long way removed from any contrition.
His offending was bad enough that he was banned from being a company director or involved in the management of a company for five years. However he has shown a history of not accepting that punishment.
Just a year after he was banned, the Herald reported:
Kiwi Air founder Ewan Wilson has been told by the Companies Office that he should be careful not to get too involved in the new charter airline K2000.
Last year Mr Wilson was banned for five years from being a director, or from taking part in the day-to-day management of any company, because of his role in the mismanagement of Kiwi Air.
After Mr Wilson popped up this week as a consultant to the latest international “nuts and cola” airline, the Companies Office wrote a letter reminding him what he could and could not do for K2000. …
He said he had acted as a consultant for an Auckland company, The Little Kiwi Management Company, on a range of projects for the past six months.
“It would appear the bureaucrats in Wellington have very little to do other than to chase their own tails.
“I’m a consultant. The Companies Office is going to have to live with that and move on.”
Doesn’t sound very contrite does he. He sounds arrogant and annoyed that the Companies Office dared to remind him that he was banned.
This was not the only time. In 2003 he decided again he was above the law, as the Herald reported:
Ewan Wilson, the man who founded the ill-fated Kiwi Airlines, could be forced to resign from his position on a prominent Hamilton trust following revelations that he was not legally entitled to stand for election.
Following the collapse of Kiwi Airlines in 1996 Mr Wilson was convicted of fraud and sentenced to three months’ periodic detention.
A separate Companies Office investigation resulted in his being banned from managing or directing any company for five years.
That order has now expired, but it was still in place when Mr Wilson, also a Hamilton City councillor and Waikato District Health Board member, won a seat in the WEL Energy Trust elections last June.
WEL Energy Trust chairman Garry Mallet said Mr Wilson had signed a form before the election saying that to the best of his knowledge he met the eligibility criteria, which included not having any prohibition orders.
Again it is all explained away as being a mistake – that he didn’t read the papers.
Wilson first announced he was standing for Mayor of Hamilto in 2001. So while it may be 17 years since his offending, he though so little of his convictions that he was standing for Mayor just four to five years later, and campaigning when he was still in his five year ban period as a company director.
So to be honest the opinion I’ve formed over the years is that Wilson has never shown any contrition for his criminal offending. He resented the Companies Office pointing out their ban to him. He decided as early as 2001 that he wanted to be Mayor, which strongly suggests to me he never saw the convictions as a big thing. They’re just a mistake, an error. Why should they be held against him? Just as the failure of Kiwi Air was never his fault – it is all the fault of Air New Zealand because they responded. And when issues such as the V8s come up, Ewan again says it was not his fault, as he was only on Council for some of the period dealing with them. There just seems to be a huge pattern there which to my mind is absolutely relevant to his suitability to be Mayor.
It’s nothing personal. I’ve never met the guy. It’s an impression I gained at the time of the collapse, and has been reinforced on multiple occasions since then. If he does manage to win, I hope he proves me wrong.